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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (3rd L) attends the Libya Ministerial meeting with Tobias Ellwood, (2nd L), French Director of Political Affairs, Nicolas de Riviera (L), Faiez Serraj, Prime Minister of Libya (2nd R) and Ahmed Mateeg (Deputy Prime Minister of Libya (R), at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Britain October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Boris Johnson helping out Saudis over failed football deal

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted on a personal plea from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the axed 300 million pounds ($413.34 million) deal to buy Premier League club Newcastle United, the Daily Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The proposed takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium collapsed last year after the group declined to take up the Premier League’s offer of independent arbitration to decide who would own the club.

The group, which included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, said last year they were ending their interest in the deal, which had been delayed by the Premier League’s owners and directors test.

The consortium had blamed the length of the evaluation for the decision to withdraw.

Mohammed Bin Salman had urged Johnson to “correct and reconsider” a “wrong” decision by the Premier League, which was accused of blocking the takeover of the club, the Daily Mail reported.

Johnson asked a senior aide and Middle East expert, Lord Eddie Lister, to take up the complaint, the report said. Lister was cited in the Daily Mail report as saying that he would investigate.

A UK government spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters. The Daily Mail quoted a government spokesman as saying: “While we welcome overseas investment, this was a commercial matter for the parties concerned and the Government was not involved at any point in the takeover talks on Newcastle United.”

Source: Reuters

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